Teach me how to not feel helpless, when I do not have the power…
Last summer I was pulled over by a Caucasian office while driving in Buckhead (downtown Atlanta) on my lunch hour. He pulled me over and as I pulling into a parking lot, I’m remembering all my steps…
- keep hands on the wheel in plan sight
- don’t reach for anything etc.
I roll my window down so I won’t have to when he gets to the car, so I will not have to move my hands. When he walks to my car, I am very aggravated and proceed to ask him “why am I being pulled over? I wasn’t speeding and my seat belt was on.” He says at first, equally perturbed (like how dare this little black girl ask me questions) “for running a red light.”
I immediately and calmly protest because this is a cross-section I am very familiar with and I told him “I clearly waited for the light to turn green to go”. He asked me for my license and registration (this is also stuff that I have ready to hand him before he even gets to my car). I give it to him and he walks back to his car and takes forever so naturally upon his second arrival to my car I have a heightened attitude. He then explains that I am now getting a ticket “for my license plate being obstructed and not being able to read my County.”
Now mind you, I had that Pink breast cancer frame that the car dealership gives you when you purchase a new car from Auto Nation. However, in my mind I am thinking and I say to the officer “everyone in Atlanta has some type of frame be it their Aluma Mater, Greek affiliations or something.” So at this point I am visibly upset and telling him “I am not taking that ticket, I know my rights I do not have to take the citation from you and furthermore I do not understand how you originally pulled me over for a running red light, which I did not. But now you are going to give me a ticket for something else you didn’t even pull me over for in the first place?”. I’m heated and arguing with him and he is yelling at me as well a not liking my tone. He then becomes very condescending and forceful in his tone and actions. And in that moment I checked myself, like I have these two car seats in the back seat of my car (it was midday so my babies were not with me) let me reel this in before this situation takes a horrible turn so I can make it home to my kids tonight because this man could possibly shoot me in broad daylight.
I took the ticket and when I got back to work I took a picture of my plate and you could clearly see my county. I also searched for the section that he stated the new law about not having a frame on your car and found absolutely nothing regarding it (as I said everyone in ATL is driving around happy with a framed plate till this day). Nevertheless, I wrote down my notes and account of all that exactly happened so I wouldn’t forget when I went to court in the month or two it was scheduled for because I was not going to pay a fine. I printed everything and I brought all of this back up to traffic court and presented it to the lawyers and my case was dismissed in 30 minutes or less.
I share this story because with the climate of our nation, black men and women are not even getting the chance to walk away from these situations because their lives are being taken on sight, even when they do everything right. Thinking of my sons being pulled over or stopped and murdered by police or anyone for that matter gives me this horrible sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, dry mouth, numbness through out my body and I lose my voice. As woman a black woman and mother sometimes I feel so powerless when my first job is to protect their lives. Despite, my education, status and the fact that I am a law-abiding citizen I am not exempt from this epidemic and neither are my beautiful boys. Everyday I try not to live in fear, I pray to God and over my children for protection and favor, however, I cannot help but to flash forward in my mind and think about how I am going to explain to these two sweet, rambunctious little boys, the cruel reality of what it means to be a black man in America, without dimming their light and lessening themselves.